Many great inventions in life come from complete mistake or accident, the world of metal is no stranger to this effect. The most popular and widely used stainless steel is one of the best examples to this outcome. Although at first intended to perfect a gun, this metal went on to change the world for ever. Throughout time, metallurgists-individuals who study the physical and chemical aspect of metal were stuck on the problem of rusting. Ironically the discovery of stainless steel came in form of a gun.
The story goes, that in 1912 a metallurgist by the name of Harry Brearly from Sheffield was trying to improve the then used pistol to make it better. Most gun barrels are grooved – or “rifled” – in a spiral pattern that causes the bullet to spin, increasing accuracy. But the friction between the bullet and the barrel causes wear, eventually making the barrel too big for the bullet. Brearley wanted to develop a steel alloy that would resist erosion.
The story continues after several months of trial and error he began to collect a massive pile of steel scraps. One day Brearly noticed that one of his failed scrap was still shiny and maintained its structure while those around it had rusted. This at the time “failed” scrap contained about 12% chromium unknowingly had reacted with the oxygen in the air to form a thin protective cover. At the time Brearly dubbed his invention “rustless steel”.
Since Brearly hometown was known for manufacturing cutlery, he immediately saw an opportunity to test his new invention. He met up with an old schoolmate by the name of Ernest Stuart who at the time was a manager at Mosley’s Portland Works. After a serious of test, Stuart named it “stainless steel”-since then the name never changed. It is incredible to think today how we could live without the assistance of stainless steel. It’s everywhere we look, hell it’s holding the very chair I’m sitting on right now.
Here at Shanghai Metal Corporation we have taken this valuable and important invention and given it different applications. From sheets to pipes, and everything in between, we here at SMC will have the answer to your stainless steel needs. For more information on stainless steel material please visit our website. Be sure to join the conversation in our Linkedin group, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account. You can also try our new mobile application by scanning the below QR code with your tablet or smart phone.
Mario B.//SMC Editor
Sources: Wikipedia , Accident , SMC
Photo credit: flickr.com